The capital of Egypt is the springboard for exploring some of the ancient world's greatest wonders. Located at the edge of the desert, the city is close to the Great Pyramids of Giza and the important archaeological site of Saqqara. For Nile journeys, major cruise lines typically fly passengers into Cairo to explore the city and its surroundings for a day or two — with accommodations at upscale resort hotels — before flights to either Luxor or Aswan to board the ship on the Nile.
What We Love
The Egyptian Museum: This world-renowned collection encompasses the largest cache of antiquities relating to the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. The museum, which has more than 120,000 objects ranging from marble statues to mummies, features an amazing King Tut exhibit that includes the young ruler's solid gold funeral mask and other ornamental accessories once entombed with him.
Citadel of Cairo: Visit this hillside complex to see the impressive 19th-century Alabaster Mosque of Muhammad Ali and enjoy the best views of the city.
The Nile: During your time in Cairo, you're likely to stay at a luxury hotel, such as the Four Seasons Cairo at Nile Plaza or the Sofitel Cairo Nile El Gezirah, overlooking the famed river. It's a wonderful way to start your journey in comfort, with a swimming pool to relax in while you fend off jet lag.
Best Known For
The Pyramids of Giza: This incredible complex is just 45 minutes from Cairo. Three large stone structures — including the oldest, the 455-foot-tall Great Pyramid — rise up from the desert. Pose for photos against this famous backdrop or ride a camel if you dare. Just across from the pyramids is the Great Sphinx, whose human head (minus its nose) sits atop the body of a lion. A visit to this complex, the lone survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is the prime reason why river cruise itineraries include Cairo.
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Who It's Best For
History Lovers: This is the place for ancient Egypt aficionados and history buffs in general to travel back more than four millennia in time amid priceless antiquities, tombs, and architectural wonders.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
You'll Be in Transit: You'll deal with plenty of unpacking and repacking as itineraries typically begin and end in Cairo with a pair of domestic flights and your time on the river vessel in between. Also, bus trips through the city to reach popular sights are slowed by constant traffic congestion.
John Roberts is a New Jersey-based writer for ShermansCruise who worked at The Virginian-Pilot.